Hotels can offer us anything and everything we’re looking for in a vacation: A beautiful room with a view, a romantic getaway, pools that disappear into the sunset, and restaurants that serve food better than anything we’ve ever eaten.
… or they can end up being a total bust – the equivalent to camping indoors. Dirty sheets, a shady location, and absolutely no service.
Having traveled a lot over the past decade (both as a family and for business), here are 34 helpful tips I can share of ways to save money on hotels. With just a few small strategies, it can be the difference between just renting a room and being treated like royalty!
1. Be flexible with your dates.
In case you didn’t know this, rates change daily for hotel rooms (just like they do for airplane flights). For example, to fill vacant rooms that didn’t sell, many hotels will often slash their typical prices by half. That means huge savings for you if you can be flexible. The same is true for off season or mid-week.
2. Shop multiple sites.
It’s often the case that if you try a bunch of different popular travel websites, you’re going to find differences in the prices they offer. Use this to your advantage.
3. Read the bad reviews.
Reviews are so helpful whenever you’re going to travel. I generally use TripAdviser. One thing I like to do is automatically skip right to the bad ones and see if I can spot any trends such as dirty rooms, lousy service, etc. If anything stands out as a red flag, then we move on and keep looking.
4. Become a member.
Pretty much every major hotel chain these days has some type of membership program or another. Be sure to sign up for the hotel reward program of any hotel you’re interested in staying at and get your points. This will come in helpful later when you go to do travel hacking with your credit cards.
5. Be loyal.
If you can help it, try to stick to one hotel chain. That way you’ll build up your rewards points faster.
6. Google promos or coupon codes before buying.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to book a hotel, and then said to myself: Wait a minute, let me see if I can find a promo code. Boom! Another 10% off just like that. Before you book any hotel, assume that there is going to be some type of deal or another going.
7. Follow the hotel on social media.
What’s an easy way to get the latest deals? Follow the hotel you’re thinking about on social media. It’s becoming more and more common to find the latest deals there.
8. Do you take AAA?
Are you a AAA member or have some other group affiliation? Use group discounts to lower your price.
9. Transfer your credit card points.
One not very well known way to pay for hotels is to see if the one you’re considering staying at has an affiliation with your credit card points. My Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfers to Hyatt hotels and several other chains at a ratio of 1:1.
10. Open a new credit card.
Consider opening a credit card that specifically awards you free nights or a generous amount of points as the introductory offer that you can use toward the hotel of your choice.
11. Are you already a status member?
Check to see if your current credit card already elevates you for certain status discounts with the hotel you’re interested in. With our Chase credit cards, we’re automatically already higher ranking members with some chains.
12. Call the hotel.
Once you’re sure you know where you want to stay, try calling the hotel directly. Sometimes they will give you a deal that wasn’t advertised, or they might be able to throw in extras that usually cost more.
13. Price match.
If you do call the hotel, see if they will price match a comparable hotel in the area.
14. Can you cancel for free?
Make sure the hotel offers free cancellation. In case you do have to change your plans, you shouldn’t get charged for it.
15. Ground view is fine.
Skip paying more for the view. Usually its not worth it.
16. Skip paying more for the suite.
Suites are nice, but you’re not going to be living there. It’s just a few nights.
17. Skip paying more for the Jacuzzi room.
Unless the purpose of the trip is for romantic time …
18. Find a hotel that offers free breakfast.
When vacationing with the family, finding a place that offers free breakfast is a huge help to the budget. It takes care of one-third of your meals for the day. Lots of popular hotels now offer this as a perk. Be sure to look for it.
19. Don’t pay extra for the breakfast.
If breakfast isn’t automatically included but can be added for an extra charge, then forget it. Most of the time it will be $10 or more person, and you can easily find cheaper breakfasts outside of the hotel.
20. Get breakfast to go.
If breakfast IS included but you’ll be missing it due to your schedule, see if the hotel can pack you a “to-go” box. I used this service at a Hilton on a business trip to England and it was awesome!
21. Skip buying snacks from the hotel lobby.
They are usually way over priced for the convenience.
22. Don’t get tricked into eating the snacks in the room.
You can do better than $5 for a bag of peanuts.
23. Avoid eating at the hotel restaurant.
Eating at the restaurant is very easy to do, especially if you’re in a new area that you don’t know very well. But you’ll end up paying for it because the meals are usually much more expensive. And in my opinion, they also usually don’t taste that great anyways.
24. Never pay for room service.
Unless you like paying $20 for two eggs and dry toast (true story).
25. Find a hotel that has free WiFi.
If you’re looking at a hotel that doesn’t offer free WiFi, skip it. These days (especially with the wife and kids), having full, uninhibited access to the Internet is a must!
26. Find a hotel with a pool.
If you have kids, then you know this one is a must. Kids LOVE pools! It will keep them entertained for hours.
27. Find a hotel that has free parking.
This is another “we gocha!” type of charge that I hate. If the hotel you’re considering charges for parking, move on. There are plenty that don’t.
28. Check in as late as your schedule permits.
Often, you’ll have better odds of getting a free upgrade.
29. Bring something to do at night.
Instead of wasting $50 at the hotel bar at night, find something better to do with your time like watch Netflix or read a good book.
30. Never buy in-room movies.
Watch Netflix or the Internet instead.
31. Bundle airport parking.
If you’re staying at a hotel that’s near an airport specifically because you’re going to fly out the next day, see if they’ve got a deal to bundle your hotel and parking together.
32. Shuttle to the airport.
While you’re at it, if you’re staying a hotel near the airport, try to get a hotel that offers a free shuttle to the airport. You’ll save on taxi or rental car fees.
33. Skip the hotel altogether.
Consider alternative to hotels like AirBNB or VRBO.
34. Don’t go “too cheap”.
Remember the old rule that if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Getting eaten up by bed bugs is not going to be worth the savings.
Featured image courtesy of Fiverr.